It’s way, way, way more expensive than you think it’s going to be. Not like when you go to Ikea and can’t understand how a plastic collander, some plants, a shower curtain, two mugs and a hanging storage container has come to £112.56 (£113.55 once John has bought himself a reconstituted hotdog). Nor like Paris these days which is so expensive at first I thought they’d gone back to using Francs. It’s way more expensive even that that. Packing up a life and a house and going away is really, really expensive.

I look back and laugh indulgently at my good self ten months ago making my calculations on the back of an envelope. I looked up and announced to John, ‘so flights, insurance, um, anything else?’  We couldn’t think of anything.  We did a rough sum. It looked manageable. Then we thought about where we were going.

‘India – that’s cheap. Cheap cheap cheap. Bali too. Australia we’re staying with people. And America we’ll hire a camper so that will be cheapish.’

We came up with a ball park figure which now I look at it again seems quaint, wishful, pathetic. Like expecting to buy a flat in Zone 1 for £15,000 or a double decker for 17p.

Our first wake up call came courtesy of the estate agents. 8% they said. I thought ‘that’s a bargain’. Until they sent the invoice and I realised they were talking about 8% of the annual rent, not 8% of one month’s. Thieves.

Then there was the gas certificate. £118. Oh and the minor detail of £200 for a new window with a vent when we failed the first gas cert. Like the cat flap wasn’t good enough. Then £60 for an electricity certificate. And £85 to have our house properly cleaned because I couldn’t be bothered. But clearly neither could the peanuts an hour underling that the woman boss with the bluetooth set employed to do it  because after forking out the £85 I had to do it myself anyway. Never, ever trust a person who talks to you whilst still wearing their bluetooth headset.

So costs are adding up and it was all panicky and desperate on our last day in the house, and I was trying to work out whether inbetween cleaning behind toilets and inside cupboards I would be able to sneak out and watch Avatar 3D without John finding out. I thought about telling him I was popping out for lightbulbs. Then this guy turned up to take our sofa (another freecycle desperado) – it was the last piece of furniture, we needed it out of the house and freecycling it seemed the easiest option. It’s not even a bad sofa, the baby lula vomit stains are faded and barely noticeable. Anyway, this guy turns up and hums and hars then says, ‘Well the zip is broken I’m not sure my Mrs will want it. She’s quite particular.’

I am standing, hidden at the top of the stairs, and I’m not in the mood for this. I mean, we have an entire house to clear and clean in less than 24 hours and I want to see Avatar.In 3D.  I want that sofa outta here. I think about hurtling down the stairs and yelling ‘This is not the MFI bank holiday fecking sale. This is FREECYCLE. WHAT WERE YOU EXPECTING you timewasting eegit.’ (I sound Irish there don’t I? I don’t know why. In my head when I’m angry I sound Irish). I  don’t rush down the stairs screaming at him though in an Irish accent, because hidden as I am, I can’t tell how tall / big / tattooed the freecycle joker is.  Instead I linger and mouth off silently, hiddenly.

But now it’s new year’s eve and getting late and we will need to find a man with a van to take it away. Luckily one phone call to my mother aka. the Beckenham yellow pages and we are sorted.  Need to know the divorce status of the sister of the woman who owns the deli? Need to know what is opening up where Pizza Hut used to be? Need to find a man with a van on NYE? – who you gonna call? My mum.)

But there goes another £30 for a man with a van to take our sofa.

See what I mean about the costs mounting?

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